Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 9, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 9, 2018

Today is Leif Erikson Day, celebrating the Norse explorer being the first European to visit North America. From Mental Floss:

While the actual date of Leif Erikson Day doesn’t have anything personally to do with Leif, it was picked for the holiday because it’s the anniversary of the day that the ship Restauration arrived in New York from Stavanger, Norway, back in 1825. The arrival of the Restauration marked the beginning of organized immigration from Scandinavia to the USA. The holiday was first recognized by Wisconsin in 1930, eventually becoming a nationally observed holiday in 1964.

On October 9, 1963, the Board of Regents approved a new junior college in Cobb County that is today Kennesaw State University. The next year, Cobb County voters approved a bond referendum to fund construction.

Democrat Jimmy Carter challenged President Gerald Ford to make his income tax returns public on October 9, 1976.

United States Senator Sam Nunn announced on October 9, 1995 that he would not run for reelection. From CNN’s contemporary story:

“I know in my heart it is time to follow a new course,” Nunn told reporters gathered in the Georgia State Capitol. He said his decision followed “a lot of thought and prayer” and he expressed enthusiasm about meaningful days ahead in the private sector.

“Today I look forward to more freedom, to more flexibility,” he said, adding he planned to spend time with his family, to write, and “devote a substantial amount of time” to public policy and public service. He said he has no immediate plans for a presidential bid.

Nunn hailed America as “the greatest country in the world,” but cited problems that need attention, including education concerns, illegitimate children, and widespread violence and drugs. He expressed optimism on such items as the strong military and entitlement reform.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said of Sam Nunn’s retirement,

“For those who listened carefully, it is clear that the Democratic Party is not the vehicle for the values outlined by Sen. Nunn.”

Nolan Waters of Knight-Ridder wrote of the announcement,

Nunn’s departure is a watershed.

“Nunn is the last of the great moderate Southern Democrats. This creates a huge hole for the party,” said Merle Black, a specialist on Southern politics at Emory University in Atlanta.

Nunn, like President Clinton, helped organize a group of moderate Democrats, the Democratic Leadership Council, in an attempt to move the party rightward after the 1984 landslide re-election of President Reagan.

“He has been fighting the liberal wing of his party for over two decades,” Black said. “It’s been a losing battle.”

In place of Nunn, the state’s most prominent politician is becoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich – whose futuristic, activist style of conservatism seems radical along-side Nunn’s traditionalism.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the Voter Registration deadline for November’s general elections, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Residents can register 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the county elections office on the second floor of the City Services Center at 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library.

But a trip to the elections office is not always necessary. Anyone with a Georgia driver’s license or state identification number can register online at the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, registertovote.sos.ga.gov.

Anyone without those numbers can download a voter registration form there or on the local elections website, www.columbusga.org/elections, print it out, fill it in and mail it in time to get a Tuesday postmark. The main post office at 3916 Milgen Road in Columbus closes at 7 p.m.

People who aren’t sure whether they’re registered can check their status online at the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page,” www.mvp.sos.ga.gov, which also has links for online registration and registration forms, and for sample ballots.

Besides the elections office, hard-copy registration forms are available at public libraries, schools and universities.

Floyd County says it’s ready for the November 6 general elections, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Floyd County Elections Board Chairman Steve Miller reassured a crowd of concerned citizens Monday that the departure of Elections Supervisor Willie Green has not affected preparations for the Nov. 6 election.

“Thus far, it has been business as usual,” Miller told the 30 or so people attending the board’s monthly meeting.

The three-member citizen board, which includes Mardi Haynes-Jackson and Tom Rees, has an interview scheduled Friday with a potential replacement, although the new title will be chief clerk. Other candidates are undergoing background checks.

Meanwhile, longtime elections technicians Vanessa Waddell and Donna Maldonado are sharing the title of interim chief clerk and board members have increased their assistance, Miller said. Jackson’s been on the board for 11 years, with more than 25 elections under her belt. Miller and Rees have each worked between six and 10.

“Each and every board member has been trained and is fully qualified to conduct elections in Floyd County,” Miller said, noting that Green had never run an election before when he was hired in October 2015.

Coastal Georgia is bracing itself for Hurricane Michael, according to The Brunswick News.

 In the Golden Isles, residents will start to feel the affects late Wednesday afternoon, said Scott Cordero, the chief meteorologist of the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville.

“I think y’all will start feeling some rain on Wednesday,” he said. “Anywhere between 2-4 inches.”

The rain will likely be accompanied by gusty winds, with sustained speeds of around 35 to 40 mph, particularly overnight Wednesday headed into Thursday, he added.

Tides are also higher than usual right now, and the wind could push the water further inland than it usually does. Cordero added it was not a concern about homes being flooded, but rather it’s more likely that some low-lying streets and areas could experience temporary tidal flooding. In particular, Cordero noted the following areas could experience minor flooring: St. Simons Island’s East Beach, Pier Village, Frederica River and Morningstar Marina; Brunswick’s South End, Lanier Boulevard and the County Club Estates area.

From the Statesboro Herald:

Road crews and other public safety employees are preparing for the storm, and the Bulloch County Emergency Operations Center will be ready for action, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.

As of Monday, the National Weather Service indicated heavy rains and strong winds from Michael were expected to increase along the northeastern Gulf Coast.

The storm “has rapidly intensified into a Category 1 hurricane, and further steady to rapid strengthening is expected during the next 24 to 36 hours,” Wynn said Monday afternoon. “The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Michael as a dangerous major hurricane making landfall along the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday.”

Tropical storm and hurricane watches had already been issued for much of inland south Georgia Monday, he said.

The storm is expected to “weaken as it moves through Georgia, but significant impacts are still expected across south and central Georgia between midday Wednesday and midday Thursday,” he said.

Residents in the area may experience tropical storm force sustained winds and hurricane force wind gusts.

“This could cause trees to fall and power outages to occur,” Wynn said.

Rainfall may begin as early as Tuesday, with up to 6 inches possible. Tornadoes are also possible along the right side of the storm.

From the Savannah Morning News:

If the storm makes landfall as a major hurricane, as currently predicted, impacts from wind and possibly tornadoes could increase across southeast South Carolina and Georgia.

Heavy rainfall is also expected, but exact amounts will depend on the speed of the system as it moves northeastward.

After landfall, Michael is expected to weaken as it tracks northeast. The forecast track brings the center across southeast Georgia and southeast South Carolina.

The current forecast shows Michael entering Georgia as a moderate to strong tropical storm.

Heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of Georgia and South Carolina, the release read.

Chatham Emergency Management Agency has entered OPCON 4 and is monitoring the storm.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

The storm’s center track for now is projected to take Michael northeast into southwest Georgia over Albany and east of Macon and Warner Robins. It is expected to cut a rapid path across the Peach State toward the Carolinas and areas flooded severely last month by Hurricane Florence.

For the Columbus area, the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga., as of Monday evening, is forecasting the possibility of tropical storm conditions moving into the area Wednesday afternoon and ramping up into the night before calming down Thursday morning. There is an 80 percent chance of precipitation with heavy rainfall and wind gusts pushing toward 25 mph to 30 mph.

Areas farther east in Georgia, such as in Albany and Macon, also have a chance for “weak short-lived tornadoes,” the service said in a hazardous weather bulletin.

A map posted by the National Hurricane Center Monday evening shows the Columbus area with as much as a 60 percent chance of experiencing tropical storm winds from Michael, which would be at least 39 mph. A separate map shows Columbus could see rain totals between 2 and 3 inches from the storm. Areas east of Columbus area are in a zone of 4 to 6 inches, with 6 to 10 inches possible in parts of central Georgia.

Some South Georgia schools are considering closing ahead of the storm, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The AJC has dueling op-eds from the candidates for Governor. From Republican Brian Kemp:

Tackling childhood literacy was a focus of the Deal administration and First Lady Sandra Deal. As governor, I will support policies and incentives that are now in place to dramatically grow the number of quality-rated childcare centers in Georgia. To support Deal’s goal to have all childcare centers rated by 2020, we will continue the incentive program that provides increased Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) funding for qualified facilities.

On the campaign trail, Stacey Abrams touts a universal Pre-K proposal that ends parental choice by eliminating privately run Pre-K and childcare centers. Not only does her extreme plan grow government, but it is also an attack on Gov. Zell Miller’s lottery program that generates funding for both public and private options.

As governor, I will allow parents to decide what’s best for their children and will protect funding for Pre-K and childcare facilities – public and private – that are quality rated.

To streamline efforts at the state level, I will also tap a statewide coordinator for literacy to oversee the numerous childhood and adult literacy programs that are operating in state government. We will create a Literacy Council with lawmakers, subject matter experts, educators, parents, and private sector leaders to drive progress, synchronize efforts, and track key metrics for public consumption. This council will also work to identify and eliminate bureaucracy, and redundant regulations for better outcomes.

At the center of my plan to boost literacy rates through early learning is teachers. These hardworking men and women were called into a difficult profession to serve, inspire, and of course — educate our children.

To enhance educational outcomes in Georgia, we must recruit and retain qualified teachers across the state. Recently, I announced a proposal to increase teacher pay while reducing high-stakes testing, burdensome mandates, and unpaid duties.

From Democrat Stacey Abrams:

We have many caring public school teachers and “Miss Gerts” in Georgia, people who are willing to run not just the extra mile, but a marathon for our children. However, we can—and we must—do a lot more to support them. We cannot expect systemic success when our teachers are underpaid and under-resourced, or when they split time being caretakers and counselors for our children as well.

First, we must commit to providing educators with the resources they need. Our schools endured 16 straight years of austerity cuts, combined with cost-shifting to local districts and educators. The legislature fully funded our public schools just this year—we must maintain full-funding as an unwavering commitment.

We must also roll back measures like voucher programs that only funnel dollars from public schools to private interests. I am proud to be the only candidate in the race for governor who opposes voucher-like programs that take money away from our public schools to hand over to private schools; I am the only candidate with a proven track record of defending our public schools.

Second, we must engage our children in a more holistic fashion with wraparound services, including access to mental health support. Promising wraparound programs and initiatives like Marietta Student Life Center are emerging in Georgia: we must implement the projects that work in every region of our state. To fund wraparound services, we should adopt a more comprehensive education formula that directly addresses the correlation between poverty, student social-emotional health, and educational outcomes.

We should also leverage our state government to take full advantage of federal funding for mental health and early intervention. Wraparound services are necessary to ensuring that children born into poverty have the same path to success as any other child in our state.

Republican Congressman Buddy Carter (Pooler) and his Democratic opponent take different approaches to environmental issues, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Republican incumbent Buddy Carter doesn’t make the environment an issue on his campaign web site. Instead he lists his issues as strengthening defense, caring for veterans, limiting government, growing economic opportunity and reducing health care costs. His Democratic opponent Lisa Ring does put the environment on her list of 17 issues, focusing on her opposition to offshore drilling.

Carter: “I just got back from an energy conference at the Aspen Institute and that’s one of the things we talked about how important NAFTA is, particularly for North America to have energy security and to have energy independence. And I’m an ‘all of the above’ type person so I want to know. I want to know if there’s anything out there. I’m not necessarily advocating that we should act on it but if we ever need to I’d like to have an inventory to know if there’s anything out there.”

Ring: “When it comes to offshore drilling there is really no good reason to allow it off the coast of Georgia. I think to put our district at risk environmentally and economically is irresponsible at best. What we’ve learned is that there may be very little oil reserves in our area of coasts. What little could be found would be sold, exported to other countries. So it is not even that we rely on that for energy. But I think the important thing here is that we must be moving away from fossil fuels in the first place and going toward 100 percent renewable sustainable clean energy. So it is a terrible idea to begin to drill for fossil fuels at the detriment of our district.

Democrat Julie Jordan has opened a fundraising advantage over incumbent Republican State Rep. Don Hogan in the campaign for House District 179, according to The Brunswick News.

Incumbent Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island, is coming off his first term in the House and didn’t start a serious fundraising push until the third quarter. His report noted $35,176 in contributions and $19,515.13 in expenditures, leaving him with $15,660.87 on hand.

Jordan spent $8,036.69 during the last quarter and shows $22,495.44 on hand — an advantage of $6,834.57 over Hogan — in a district that didn’t produce a Democratic challenger for eight years.

Other state legislative races continue to fit closer into the narrative of the previous elections, with Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, raising $25,375 and maintaining a cash-on-hand advantage over Cedric Z. King, Democratic nominee for HD 167, of more than $32,000. Jones also brought in several thousand dollars from the House Republican leadership. Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey gave $100 toward King’s effort.

The disparity is even larger in the Senate District 3 contest, where incumbent Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, reported more than $70,000 on hand, while Democratic nominee Jerrold Dagen showed a little more than $700. Ligon received several thousand dollars from the Senate Republican leadership, including $2,500 from Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert.

In the gubernatorial race, Kemp vastly outdrew Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in Glynn County, with $191,725 raised over the last quarter compared to Abrams’ $23,979.34. Kemp pulled in $36,750 from metro Brunswick, $123,525 from St. Simons Island and $29,550 from Sea Island. Abrams posted totals of $1,944.36 from metro Brunswick, $20,553 from St. Simons, $539.56 from Jekyll Island and $267.42 from Sea Island.

The Gainesville Times looks at the candidates for House District 30, currently held by Republican State Rep. Emory Dunahoo.

Tax relief is a big issue for both incumbent state Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, and his challenger in the Nov. 6 election, political newcomer Alana Watkins.

For Dunahoo, who is seeking his fourth two-year term in the Georgia General Assembly, it’s a continued push for “FairTax” legislation, which would convert Georgia’s tax code from a state income tax to a statewide consumption tax system.

FairTax would replace the 6 percent income tax rate “with a broad-based consumption tax.”

Watkins, a South Hall Democrat seeking her first political office, would like to see the 4 percent grocery tax abolished.

“I feel like we pay double taxes on everything,” she said, also last week. “We get taxed on paychecks and then, every dollar we spend gets taxed.”

Abolishing the grocery tax “would help everybody regardless of your social or economic background.”

Thirty percent of Chatham County seniors who were surveyed said they will skip this year’s fly shot, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Just 70 percent of Savannah seniors plan to get a flu shot this season, according to a new survey.

That percentage, though surprisingly low, is higher than in the rest of the country, as polled by Clover Health, a health insurer focusing on the Medicare market. Nationally, 63 percent of seniors surveyed as part of the Clover Health Flu Shot Monitor said they planned to get a flu shot.

Whitfield County Commissioners approved a bid to build a new fire station, according to the Dalton Daily News.

The Rome-Floyd County NAACP will host a candidate forum tonight, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

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